Haven in the city
The facade of exposed ceiling beams and original floor tiles are a reminder of the shophouse's old-world charm
128G Cairnhill Road
Perhaps the most notable feature of this two-storey pre-war terrace house is a central courtyard that has been converted into a naturally illuminated sanctuary with a koi pond.
The retractable skylight directly above it keeps the rain out and reflects the heat on warmer days.
Principal architect Richard Ho of RichardHO Architects, who worked on the project, notes: 'The spaces within the house flow from one to the other, horizontally and vertically, with an airwell which can be opened or closed depending on the weather.
'The airwell not only helps in the effective natural ventilation of the whole house, but also brings in light into what could have been the darkest part of the house.'
The house also has a roof terrace that was created as a haven for the owners to relax with a glass of wine after a stressful day, away from the noise and dust of Cairnhill Road.
Mr Ho, who is in his 50s, says: 'Our client wanted a contemporary home with a distinct local shophouse character that could accommodate his family's needs and modern conveniences.
'This house is contemporary and yet unmistakably tropical with a strong sense of place and history.'
It belongs to housewife Cecilia Lee, 35, her husband and their 2 1/2-year-old daughter.
The couple moved in in June 2009, two years after the property was purchased. It took about 13 months to complete the restoration process.
Ms Lee, who declined to reveal the cost of the restoration work, says: 'My husband's dream has always been to live in a shophouse. He loved the 1930s Art-Deco look of the house and wanted to retain this style but with a new, modern feel.'
Mr Ho faced a few challenges in the process of working on the house. For example, there were stringent requirements for its foundation and structure as the MRT tunnel running beneath from the nearby Newton MRT station is less than a kilometre away.
This meant that a large part of the house had to be reconstructed.
For instance, the ground floor, which had to be rebuilt, required an extensive use of steel for its reinforcement.
The house also had to be childproofed after MsLee gave birth.
Mr Ho says: 'Special childproof gates were installed, such that they blended in with the design. We designed it in such a way that the gates can be removed later without spoiling the design.'
The assessment committee praised Mr Ho's 'clearly well thought through' restoration approach.
'It demonstrates a successful modern interpretation of the terrace house while celebrating its historic character.'
The exposed timber structure and original floor tiles on the second storey are also reminders of the house's architectural legacy.
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